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B/R NFL 1000: Top 35 Left Tackles

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterFebruary 14, 2013

B/R NFL 1000: Top 35 Left Tackles

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    The left tackle position is one of the most important pieces to building a successful NFL franchise. Who plays it best?

    Our B/R NFL 1,000 series is back, taking a look at each position by scouting, charting, grading and finally ranking each player based on his 2012 season.

    The B/R 1,000 metric is based heavily on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance for a possible best score of 100. Potential and past accomplishments are not taken in account.

    Offensive linemen are judged on pass-blocking (50 points) and run-blocking (50 points). Everything else that goes into the position—quickness, strength, vision, technique—can be grouped into those two categories.

    In the case of ties, I have asked myself, "Which player would I rather have on my team?" and set the rankings accordingly. Subjective? Yes. But ties are no fun.

    Each player was scouted by myself and a team of experienced evaluators, with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team.

    All statistics from Pro Football Focus. Players' heights, weights and seasons in the NFL are from NFL.com.

35. Michael Harris, San Diego Chargers

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    Pass Block

    19/50

    Michael Harris (6'5", 318 pounds, one season) didn’t enjoy a bright 2013 as the San Diego Chargers left tackle. In just over seven starts this season, Harris allowed 10 sacks and an incredible 44 quarterback pressures—the third most of any tackle in the league. Harris was a fish out of water this year, consistently struggling to time his movements and get to the corner to meet defenders. He was too concerned with the inside move and allowed defenders to rush his left side, causing him to move off-balance and give up sacks. He missed nearly every time a defender dipped his shoulder to get passed him.

    Run Block

    26/50

    Harris was unfortunately not much better in run-blocking. He came out of the ball too high, never adjusting to the leverage needed to drive defenders off the ball. He shows good strength when he’s able to lock on, but those opportunities were limited as poor hand placement kept him from making contact.

    Overall

    45/100

    Harris really struggled in 2012, as he was unprepared for the rigors of starting at left tackle in the NFL. The Chargers will need to tear down his mechanics and rebuild them while also considering moving him to right tackle. No matter where he plays, Harris should be looking at a backup role next season.

34. D'Anthony Batiste, Arizona Cardinals

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    Pass Block

    20/50

    Built like a guard at 6’4”, D’Anthony Batiste (314 pounds, seven seasons) played out of position at left tackle this year as the Arizona Cardinals panicked in the wake of Levi Brown’s injury. Batiste naturally lacks the length to play on the left side, and defenders took advantage of this by attacking his outside shoulder and making him lunge for them. Bottom line: He was one of the worst pass-protectors we scouted during the 2012 season.

    Run Block

    27/50

    Batiste has the bulk and strength to do well blocking in the confined spaces of a run play, and it goes to show his better position is guard or right tackle. What Batiste has in strength he lacks in technique. His hand placement was rarely consistent or sustained when locked in with defenders.

    Overall

    47/100

    Much better suited for a spot as a backup, Batiste was asked to take on a starting role for part of the 2012 season and struggled as expected. He’ll be looked at as a rotational player at best in 2013.

     

    Batiste was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.

33. Max Starks, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Pass Block

    27/50

    Max Starks (6'8", 345 pounds, nine seasons) struggles keeping up with defenders that have a lot of speed. He doesn’t possess the lateral quickness to consistently beat his opponent to his spot. On the bright side Starks only gave up five sacks in 16 games this year compared to giving up five sacks in only 12 games last year.

    Run Block

    22/50

    Rarely pushes defenders backward. Plays too tall and doesn’t get into his opponents' pads. Whiffs on a lot of blocks and doesn’t have the agility to get down the line on plays where he is asked to pull.

    Overall

    49/100

    While Starks gave up fewer sacks per game this year his quarterback hurries more than tripled. It seems as if he gets fatigued as the game goes on, and by the time the fourth quarter comes around he is consistently getting pushed backward and missing on blocks.

     

    Starks was No. 29 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

32. Marshall Newhouse, Green Bay Packers

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    Pass Block

    30/50

    Marshall Newhouse (6'4", 319 pounds, three seasons) showed improvement in pass protection this year. He has good quickness, but will sometimes take bad angles. He needs a little work on his hand placement. He doesn’t always get his hands inside the defenders' pads.

    Run Block

    21/50

    Above-average agility, which helps when he has to pull. Does struggle trying to block in space, and doesn’t have the power to move defenders at will. Will need to improve his footwork and balance to be more effective in the run game.

    Overall

    51/100

    Newhouse uses his mind more than his physical skills. He has potential to be a really good tackle, but he needs to get stronger and work on his technique. Short arms and less than ideal strength are holding him back some.

     

    Newhouse was No. 31 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

31. Nate Potter, Arizona Cardinals

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    Pass Block

    27/50

    With ideal size for the position, Nate Potter (one season) looks the part at 6’6” and 305 pounds. He has the long arms scouts love at left tackle, but his technique and performance need work. He lacks the strength to anchor on the edge and will get walked back to the quarterback when he locks on to defenders. When asked to kick-slide off the line, Potter is top heavy and off-balance at times. He does have good inside vision to combo block, but isn’t quick enough to take away the outside edge rush.

    Run Block

    28/50

    Potter doesn’t show the balance to fire off the line and engage defenders, and he lacks the consistency to make impact at the second level. While he does have good initial quickness to get to linebackers, his success rate of sealing blocks is poor.

    Overall

    55/100

    Potter was thrust into the lineup early in his first season and struggled because of it. The foundation is here for him to develop, but he lacks the basic quickness needed to play left tackle. A move to right tackle could be an option if he can add strength to his lean frame.

30. Jeff Backus, Detroit Lions

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    Pass Block

    35/50

    Jeff Backus (6'5", 305 pounds, 12 seasons) might be getting older, but he is still above average in pass protection. He will struggle against elite pass-rushers who have a lot of speed. Backus has good vision and is still able to get out in space on screens and make key blocks.

    Run Block

    21/50

    Doesn’t possess the power and strength that he once had. Isn’t able to consistently clear out a hole and is sometimes pushed backward. Has sound technique, however, and won’t miss on many blocks.

    Overall

    56/100

    With his skills deteriorating Backus has to rely on his technique, experience and intelligence.  He isn’t as agile or strong as he used to be, but he is still good enough to be an average tackle.

     

    Backus was No. 20 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

29. Wayne Hunter, St. Louis Rams

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    Pass Block

    27/50

    Wayne Hunter (6'5", 318 pounds, nine seasons) doesn’t have the quickness or the lateral movement to be a reliable starter. He is big and has average strength, but too often he gets pushed back when he is faced with a bull rush. He struggles with average pass-rushers and has major problems trying to keep up with elite speed-rushers.

    Run Block

    32/50

    A capable run-blocker that can open holes if he is able to get his hands on the defender. Lacks the agility to be able to get out in space and get to the second level. Has much better technique in the running game than he does when asked to pass protect.

    Overall

    59/100

    Hunter is a couple years past his prime, and would be much better served as a spot starter or a backup. He no longer has the skills to keep up with the bigger, faster and stronger defensive players in today’s game.

     

    Hunter was No. 31 among right tackles in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

28. J'Marcus Webb, Chicago Bears

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    Pass Block

    29/50

    J’Marcus Webb (6'7", 333 pounds, three seasons) is a huge tackle and surprisingly agile for his size. He plays too high, which causes defenders to get under his pads and push him backward. He shows poor technique and wraps his arms around rushers instead of keeping his hands inside.

    Run Block

    32/50

    Much more comfortable when run-blocking than pass-protecting. Able to get his pads low and drive. Shows a lot more power when moving forward. Does a nice job of sealing the backside. Could be a little more consistent when moving to the second level.

    Overall

    61/100

    Webb is a young tackle who still has a lot of room to grow. He struggles in pass protection due to poor technique and an average skill set. The Bears should consider moving him to the right side as he is much better in the running game. When he gets that big frame moving forward he can do a lot more damage.

     

    Webb was No. 28 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

27. Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens

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    Pass Block

    29/50

    Michael Oher (6'4", 315 pounds, four seasons) was never fully comfortable on the blind side, leading to his eventual move back to right tackle. But he played more snaps at left tackle in 2012, so he's ranked here. He has good size and is a very powerful blocker, but he lacks the technique to be consistent week in and week out. Oher was one of the worst in the league at protecting the quarterback, as he allowed 10 sacks this year on the left side. He’s much better when paired against stronger, slower rushers off the right side.

    Run Block

    33/50

    Much more suited to be a run-blocker than a pass-blocker, he is strong and has great leg drive to move the pile and create holes. He has above-average agility and can get to the second level. He doesn’t get great leverage, but he makes up for it with good strength to overpower ends.

    Overall

    62/100

    Oher hasn’t developed into the elite player the Ravens had hoped for, but he has shown signs of brilliance. If he can become more consistent and a little bit more polished then he can start to move into the upper echelon of tackles. He would be ranked better on the right side.

     

    Oher was No. 7 among right tackles in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

26. Donald Stephenson, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Pass Block

    27/50

    Watching Donald Stephenson (6'6", 312 pounds, one season) as a pass-protector wasn’t pretty. Initially he looked good, with a lean and athletic frame, but his technique wasn’t good. Stephenson punches at pass-rushers with a two-handed approach, but fails to stun them due to a lack of strength. He struggled to slide his feet to cut off the corner after a punch and looked otherwise awkward when moving back and to his left. Stephenson was too easily beaten to the inside, as teams baited him with an outside step and then countered inside with high success.

    Run Block

    36/50

    As bad as his pass-blocking was, Stephenson impressed in the run game. He has a good ability to lock on to defenders and drive with wide hand placement. I would like to see him get lower for better power and leverage here. He does a good job of dipping his shoulders to square up and drive, but has to get stronger and lower at the point of attack. Overall, Stephenson did a nice job walling-off on the edge, and he has the quickness to be a factor at the second level.

    Overall

    63/100

    Stephenson is a technical mess who needs his pass sets completely re-worked this offseason. The athletic ability is there, and in the more raw run-blocking traits he did much better, but banking on him as a starting left tackle in 2013 would be a stretch.

25. Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans Saints

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    Pass Block

    28/50

    Jermon Bushrod (6'5", 315 pounds, six seasons) has ideal size for his position, but an average skill set. He may not give up very many sacks, but that has more to do with Drew Brees as Bushrod is one of the worst tackles in the league when it comes to QB hurries. He plays with good power and balance, but will struggle with speed-rushers.

    Run Block

    35/50

    Has quickness off of the snap and a solid base to be a dependable blocker in the run game. Possesses good vision and is above average at getting to the second level. Does not have great technique and will miss on some blocks, but uses his hands well and if he gets locked on to the defender he can move the pile.

    Overall

    63/100

    Bushrod struggled in pass protection this year, and might be better suited playing inside. He lacks the elite quickness and lateral movement to consistently block above-average pass-rushers. If he gets his hands inside a defender's pads then he is much more effective.

     

    Bushrod was No. 19 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

24. Sam Baker, Atlanta Falcons

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    Pass Block

    33/50

    Sam Baker (6'5", 301 pounds, five seasons) struggled with a back injury last year, which may have been the main reason for his poor play. This year he was finally healthy and it showed. Baker anchored a Falcons offensive line that was near the best in the league in sacks allowed. He is not the biggest or quickest tackle in the game and he relies on his fundamental skills to protect Matt Ryan. Baker will be overpowered at times when bull rushed, as he lacks the strength to plant his weight and anchor, but when asked to slide to the edge he’s fine.

    Run Block

    31/50

    Baker has good quickness to execute a zone-blocking scheme, but he too often misses blocks and overlooks defenders in the hole. Baker has the physical skill set for the position—he’s lean, quick and stocky—but his on-field vision and instincts are lacking.

    Overall

    64/100

    Baker was one of the most improved left tackles this year, which wasn’t hard to do since he had been one of the worst tackles in the league. He may never get to the elite level, but if he keeps polishing his skills he could become a top-tier tackle.

     

    Baker was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.

23. Jake Long, Miami Dolphins

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    Pass Block

    35/50

    Jake Long (6'7", 319 pounds, five seasons) has the perfect build for a left tackle. He is big and strong , but not the most athletic player at his position. This was perhaps the worst season of his career, and it ended with him on the IR with a torn tricep. He still has an elite skill set, and if he can get and remain healthy he should be able to get back to being one of the best pass-protectors in the NFL.

    Run Block

    30/50

    His strength has been diminishing over the past few years due to all of his injuries. This has affected him most in his run-blocking. He doesn’t get the push he did a few years ago, and he has never been one of the most agile blockers.

    Overall

    65/100

    Long isn’t the elite tackle that he once was and only time will tell if he will be able to return to that level. Even though his skills aren’t what they once were he is still solid, and he's young enough that plenty of teams in the league would be content to have him as their left tackle.

     

    Long was No. 6 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

22. Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts

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    Pass Block

    27/50

    Anthony Castonzo (6'7", 315 pounds, two seasons) should probably make a move to right tackle after what I saw on film. The Colts’ left tackle stands flat-footed far too often, giving up his outside shoulder and failing to slide to the corner. If the defensive end lined up head-up or to his inside, Castonzo hesitated and gave up the edge. That’s inexcusable from an NFL tackle. Castonzo has a habit of standing up out of his two-point stance instead of staying sprung and on his toes. This allows defenders to get the jump on him from their first step. If placed on the right side, Castonzo would be going against slower, stronger pass-rushers—a better fit for his slow-footed style of play.

    Run Block

    38/50

    Quite the opposite of his pass-protecting skills, Castonzo is much better in the run game. With good natural strength when using his legs, Castonzo was able to lock up and drive defenders off the ball. He showed good hand placement when blocking inside and out on run downs. He allowed the Colts to have success running off-tackle to the left this season.

    Overall

    65/100

    Castonzo looked out of place at left tackle this season, with far too many bad plays outweighing the good. His technique needs to be completely re-worked from the waist down to keep him on the blindside.

     

    Castonzo was No. 22 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

21. King Dunlap, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Pass Block

    37/50

    A spot-starter on the Philadelphia Eagles’ line, King Dunlap (five seasons) had a better year than expected as a pass-protector. As a mammoth man—6’9”, 310 lbs—Dunlap has the wingspan to reach edge-rushers without having to have great footwork. Once that footwork develops, though, he’ll be better suited to slide to the corner and not rely as often on his reach. Too often Dunlap was standing flat-footed and punching at rushers instead of sliding to keep his balance and base on the player. That has to change in 2013 for him to take the next step.

    Run Block

    30/50

    Dunlap has better quickness than you might expect from a man his size, but he really struggles to get low out of the gate. Being able to fire off the ball and make contact with your man is everything in run-blocking, and Dunlap was very average here. He opened himself up to swim moves due to high stance and poor hand quickness in the run game.

    Overall

    67/100

    Dunlap’s rare physical tools make him an exciting prospect at left tackle, but he’s a work in progress. As a pass-protector I love his length and the progress he made this year in chopping his feet and sliding to the corner. As a run-blocker he has to work on gaining leverage and just hitting the guy in front of him instead of whiffing or allowing himself to be beaten.

     

    Dunlap was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

20. Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills

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    Pass Block

    30/50

    Great left tackles have the quickness to beat pass-rushers to the corner before the defender turns left to head to the quarterback. Cordy Glenn (6'5", 345 pounds, one season) has good quickness, but he’ll never be an elite pass-protector on the left side. The lack of natural quickness to get to the corner and cut off the left turn will limit Glenn—who is much better when taking on head-up, five-technique defensive ends than the outside speed-rushers. Glenn would be a more natural fit at guard or right tackle, but he can be an above-average left tackle with improved technique.

    Run Block

    37/50

    With great natural strength, Glenn was able to hit the ground running in his rookie season. Ideally you’d like to see better knee bends and lower pad level, but the results were pretty solid. He can latch on and control defenders as long as he connects—too often he was left lunging and missing this year. If he can improve his accuracy and vision, he could be an elite run-blocker.

    Overall

    67/100

    Glenn grades out as a much better run-blocker than pass-protector, which is to be expected from the big-bodied rookie. The foundation is there for Glenn to be very good, but he needs to work on nailing his technique—his punch, his slide step and his hand placement all need to be refined in the offseason. He has potential, but the Bills may be tempted to move him to right tackle where his strength is a natural asset.

19. Rodger Saffold, St. Louis Rams

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    Pass Block

    39/50

    At 6’5”, Rodger Saffold (314 pounds, three seasons) is an inch or two shorter than is ideal for the position, but he makes up for his smaller stature with good quickness and natural strength. Saffold struggled against pass-rushers lining up wide—Jared Allen and Aldon Smith—but did well when asked to lock up less athletically gifted players. With good first-step quickness to the outside, Saffold can reach the edge to cut off the rush. He could benefit from a better punch, but he does a good job resetting his feet and adapting on the move.

    Run Block

    30/50

    Graded out as an average run-blocker, Saffold has good quickness to get off the ball, but lacks the strength to make a major impact in his first move. Much better in space as a run-blocker, Saffold can get outside the tackle box and make blocks at the second level.

    Overall

    69/100

    When healthy, Rodger Saffold has the skills to be a top-tier left tackle. The issue is that he’s not been consistently healthy early in his career. Saffold can be tough to grade because of times when he’s playing injured or shaking off the rust of an injury, but all-in-all he has the skills to be a long-term solution at left tackle.

     

    Saffold was No. 25 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

18. Donald Penn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Pass Block

    30/50

    Donald Penn (6'5", 340 pounds, seven seasons) had a down season as a pass-protector. The Tampa Bay left tackle doesn’t have ideal quickness to slide out to the edge and cut off pass-rushers, and that showed in a big way this season as he allowed five sacks and 34 quarterback hurries. Penn is better suited to the right side, where his lack of quickness wouldn’t be exposed so easily.

    Run Block

    40/50

    Penn is at his best when moving with a full head of steam. He has good downfield quickness if moving in a straight line, which is fine for the run game. He struggles at times to get out in front of outside runs. He will get down and dirty to cut block if needed.

    Overall

    70/100

    Penn is playing out of position at left tackle, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be wise to move him to the other side. Penn’s short arms and his lack of speed make him a liability in pass protection. Where some tackles can overcome one or the other, having slow feet and short arms is a recipe for disaster.

     

    Penn was No. 9 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

17. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

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    Pass Block

    28/50

    Tyron Smith (6'5", 308 pounds, two seasons) has ideal size and is a very athletic tackle. He had a few issues settling in at left tackle after moving over from the right side. His long arms and quick feet bail him out when his technique breaks down. Smith had too many penalties, which could be attributed to him adjusting to his new position.

    Run Block

    43/50

    A beast in the run game. Has the power and agility to blow open holes and get to the second level. Does a good job of sinking his hips and pushing defenders back.

    Overall

    71/100

    Everything started to click for Smith late in the season, and he will only improve going into next season. He has all of the physical skills to be one of the elite tackles in the game. Once he polishes up his technique and gains a little more experience he will be near the top of this list.

     

    Smith was No. 6 among right tackles in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

16. Jordan Gross, Carolina Panthers

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    Pass Block

    32/50

    Jordan Gross (6'4", 305 pounds, 10 seasons) struggled through the 2012 season as a pass-protector, allowing seven sacks and 23 quarterback pressures this season—quite a bit for a team with a big, strong, mobile quarterback. Gross has regressed in terms of speed and strength. While his technique is still clean, he’s over-extending his slide step in an effort to beat quicker rushers to the edge. This opens him up to inside moves far too often. Gross was at one point a very good pass-protector, but his body is starting to break down on him.

    Run Block

    40/50

    Gross struggled at times this year with wide-set defensive ends in the run game, but he’s still a top-tier run-blocker when asked to lock up and drive from the left side of the line. Gross does a good job down-blocking to seal off the backside, opening up cut-back lanes and paving the way for outside counters.

    Overall

    72/100

    It’s been surprising to see how quickly Gross’ athletic ability has dropped off, but thanks to technique and strength he’s still a high-level run-blocker. He can be a liability in pass protection, but there’s room for improvement if he’s healthy in 2013.

     

    Gross was No. 7 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

15. William Beatty, New York Giants

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    Pass Block

    37/50

    William Beatty (6'6, 319 pounds, four seasons) is an athletic left tackle with a leaner build, which causes him to struggle when absorbing contact. Beatty has good quickness though, and is able to slide his feet to meet edge-rushers. He must get stronger when punching to stun defenders.

    Run Block

    37/50

    Beatty isn’t a powerful lead blocker, but he’s quick enough to set the tone when getting outside the line and to the second level. He is at his best when moving, not when being asked to anchor on the backside.

    Overall

    74/100

    An all-around solid left tackle who doesn’t do one thing better than the other, Beatty may not be an exciting player, but his value comes in his balance. His pass sets are solid and his run-blocking quickness continues to improve.

     

    Beatty was No. 30 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

14. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets

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    Pass Block

    42/50

    D’Brickashaw Ferguson (6'6", 310 pounds, seven seasons) wins on the edge thanks to his long arms and ability to re-direct traffic with his punch. What Ferguson lacks with brute strength he makes up for in quickness in sliding to his left and in using his feet to mirror pass-rushers.

    Run Block

    34/50

    Without great quickness or agility in the run game, Ferguson hasn’t been able to establish himself as a top-level run-blocker. As a big, stiff-backed left tackle, he doesn’t have the ability to sink his hips and drive defenders off the ball. He looks uncomfortable doing anything other than blocking down on a defensive tackle.

    Overall

    76/100

    Ferguson does a good job as a blindside protector in pass sets, but as a run-blocker he’s just average. While the Jets would be hard-pressed to upgrade his pass protection, their inability to run off-tackle to the left side makes the offense off-balanced. Ferguson is who he is at this point in his career—a very good pass-blocker and average run-blocker.

     

    Ferguson was No. 14 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

13. Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Pass Block

    45/50

    In 13 games this season, Branden Albert (6'5", 316 pounds, five seasons) allowed just one sack, but he missed two contests against Von Miller and the Broncos. Albert is a good athlete who can hold the edge with quickness and a solid first punch. He knows how to stun pass-rushers and is strong enough to hold his ground against inside moves.

    Run Block

    32/50

    You might think that with Jamaal Charles’ stats that Albert was a dominant run-blocker. He wasn’t. The Chiefs were a run-right team all season, leaving Albert to protect the backside on zone runs. He will get blown off the ball in the run game as he fires off too high. He has a tendency to plant his feet and try to reach with his arms, which extends his upper body and causes him to lose balance. He has to learn to keep his weight transferred and his body over his feet.

    Overall

    77/100

    Albert might be a bit overrated when you see him on film. He was a good pass-protector this year, but he was the opposite as a run-blocker. Albert needs to find balance and give more effort in the run game.

     

    Albert was No. 17 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

12. Matt Kalil, Minnesota Vikings

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    Pass Block

    46/50

    Matt Kalil (6'6", 308 pounds, one season) hit the ground running as a pass-protector, only allowing one sack all season until Week 17. Kalil has a good combination of quickness, mechanics and strength. He has a rare understanding of when to slide with defenders and when to lock down and hold his ground. He has a good punch to stun defenders, but holds the inside well with right hand placement low to catch spin moves. Kalil has the skill set to be the best pass-blocker in the league

    Run Block

    33/50

    Despite Adrian Peterson’s 2,000 yard season, Kalil doesn’t grade out particularly well as a run-blocker. At times he looks uninterested, failing to reach the second level or to drive defenders off the ball. He is much better collapsing down the line on strongside runs than when leading the charge. He needs someone to light a fire under him.

    Overall

    79/100

    You can’t argue with the year Kalil had in Minnesota. He was a high-level pass-blocker all season and earned a Pro Bowl invite. Now he needs to refine his run-blocking to make himself a more balanced tackle. If he can become more of a factor on rushing downs, Kalil will be unstoppable.

11. Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders

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    Pass Block

    44/50

    A phenomenal athlete, Jared Veldheer (6'8, 321 pounds, three seasons) has the quickness and strength to win and dominate on the edge. He’s getting better at re-directing pass-rushers with his hands, but needs to learn when to sit and anchor vs. sliding his feet to mirror. He can get beat by secondary moves. He's quicker than most left tackles and is able to contain pass-rushers longer.

    Run Block

    37/50

    Veldheer has the strength to pancake defenders in the run game, but he’ll also miss on blocks and get over-aggressive. He works well in tandem with guards to hit and move the pile. He can get a bit top heavy at times and has to compensate with strength.

    Overall

    81/100

    Veldheer has talent, but you might not be as familiar with him due to his inconsistency. He has to learn to limit mistakes and keep his head about him. He has the skill set to dominate and the toughness to win one-on-one battles. He just needs some polish in both run- and pass-blocking.

     

    Veldheer was No. 15 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

10. Nate Solder, New England Patriots

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    Pass Block

    38/50

    Nate Solder’s (6'8", 320 pounds, two seasons) ability as a pass-protector are tied to his long arms and quick feet. At 6’8” he has the reach that most tackles don’t—allowing him to extend his range on the edge and get to hard-charging rushers faster. Where Solder struggles is in getting balance under his feet and keeping his knees bent. He has a tendency to bend at the waist, which gives defenders leverage to beat him with a power move.

    Run Block

    44/50

    Solder is surprisingly solid as a run-blocker, given his size. He’s a good athlete, though, and his first-step quickness is what we want in a run-blocker. Solder knows how to dip his pads and get his hands into defenders. While he needs to work on keeping his feet moving, overall he’s able to clear holes and move the pile.

    Overall

    82/100

    Solder has the potential to be a top-five left tackle if he can work on his ability to anchor and hold the edge off the left side. He’s quick, long and very good in the run game, but he can’t allow 29 quarterback hurries in a spread passing attack again in 2013.

     

    Solder was ranked No. 9 among right tackles in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings .

9. Trent Williams, Washington Redskins

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    Pass Block

    41/50

    Trent Williams (6'5", 325 pounds, three seasons) is quick to engage off the ball, getting into opposing defenders and keeping them from establishing the edge. He will over-extend at times and get too top heavy. He will also give up more hurries than sacks and can be walked back by a bull rush. When moving laterally, he keeps his feet under him, which is very important for long, tall tackles.

    Run Block

    42/50

    When making first contact, Williams is strong in his burst. He does a nice job of locking up between the shoulders, dipping his elbows and driving with his legs. He maintains contact through the block. Williams can struggle to dip and get low on defenders, but he's so naturally strong that it makes up for it. He's a powerful lead blocker with Pro Bowl skills.

    Overall

    83/100

    Williams doesn’t have elite speed, but he plays with good quickness and balance to win battles in one-on-one situations. While he’s not a top-graded run- or pass-blocker, he’s talented enough in both aspects to be considered a top-10 left tackle.

     

    Williams was ranked No. 11 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

8. Eugene Monroe, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Pass Block

    43/50

    Not your protypical left tackle at just 6’5”, Eugene Monroe (306 pounds, four seasons) has been able to play at a Pro Bowl level because of his quickness in space and balance when attacked. He has the ability to slide and mirror pass-rushers, but he’s quick enough to counter inside moves and crash down on rushers trying to get leverage. Monroe isn’t perfect, but he grades out very high on the edge.

    Run Block

    41/50

    Equally dangerous as a run-blocker, Monroe’s short-area quickness is off the charts. He’s able to fire off the ball and quickly gain leverage under his pads. He does a good job sinking his hips and driving defenders. He can latch and drive.

    Overall

    84/100

    Monroe is one of the better balanced tackles in the NFL. He’s equally punishing as a run-blocker and pass-protector, and while he might not be elite at either criteria, he’s pretty close. Monroe is the right mix of dual-threat that teams hope for but can rarely find.

     

    Monroe was No. 5 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

7. Michael Roos, Tennessee Titans

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    Pass Block

    48/50

    The ideal left tackle has long arms, quick feet and the strength to punch defenders when they start to get close to the edge. Michael Roos (6'7", 320 pounds, eight seasons) is that. When closing off the edge he’s big enough and long enough to reach speed-rushers who beat him to the corner, but he’s able to stun them with a punch and then recover by sliding his feet. That’s what’s made Roos one of the NFL’s best blindside protectors over the last three seasons.

    Run Block

    37/50

    While Roos’ size is a great asset on the edge, it’s a negative when asking him to get low and push the pile in the run game. He struggles to gain leverage off the ball. He’s much better when asked to block on the backside, where he’s angling to get to the second level.

    Overall

    85/100

    Roos is one of the more underrated left tackles in the NFL, as he allowed just four sacks in 608 passing snaps this season. While he’s not a great athlete, Roos is able to dominate with strength, length and subtle quickness.

     

    Roos was No. 4 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

6. Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Pass Block

    49/50

    Forget that Andrew Whitworth (6'7", 330 pounds, seven seasons) allowed five sacks all season. He was one of the best pass-blockers in the NFL. Whitworth is a nice combination of balance and power. He’s not overly athletic or quick, but he’s big and strong enough to seal off the edge and hold his position against pass-rushers.

    Run Block

    36/50

    Whitworth is a big, thick tackle who can struggle to get to the second level. He’s not capable of showing top-level quickness or burst to initiate contact with defenders who aren’t lined up over him. While he has very good strength, his lack of motion and agility hold him back as a run-blocker.

    Overall

    85/100

    A top-end left tackle, Whitworth has a good balance of very high skills as a pass-blocker while being a good enough run-blocker to get by. He won’t ever be a consistent threat as a lane-clearing left tackle, but he’s paid to protect the quarterback, and that’s what he does best.

     

    Whitworth was No. 10 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

5. Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos

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    Pass Block

    48/50

    It helps that Ryan Clady (6'6", 315 pounds, five seasons) was blocking for Peyton Manning, who has a knack for getting the ball out in a hurry, but you can’t discount what Clady has done. He’s a high-level athlete with quick feet to snap to action off the ball. he does a great job sliding to the left to pick up the edge. He doesn’t have great strength, but he makes up for it with quickness and leverage.

    Run Block

    37/50

    Too many penalties in the run game moved Clady’s grade down. He was much better here late in the season than early on. He struggled to drive block defenders off the line. He can get too high in terms of his weight distribution.

    Overall

    85/100

    Clady doesn’t get a ton of attention after a so-so 2011 season, but he was straight-up dominant as a pass-protector this season. He allowed just one sack all season, showing that athletic, lighter left tackles are as valuable as the bigger, stronger options at the position.

     

    Clady was No. 27 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

4. Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

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    Pass Block

    50/50

    Pound-for-pound the best technique of any pass-blocker in the NFL, Joe Thomas (6'6", 312 pounds, six seasons) didn’t have an elite year—he allowed three sacks—but he was once again a top-level blocker who is a textbook example of how to control the edge. He’s quick off the edge and wastes no movement in getting to the corner. Thomas is also strong enough to stand his ground and hold off bull rushes and hard inside moves. He’s quick enough to shuffle his feet and not give up the corner. These are all the things a left tackle must be great at, and Thomas is.

    Run Block

    36/50

    Thomas may remain the textbook example of a left tackle’s pass-protection skills, but his run-blocking is not as strong. He can struggle to reset off the snap and get his pads low. He has good power, but his leverage is shaky at best.

    Overall

    86/100

    Thomas enjoyed a good 2012 season protecting a quarterback without great mobility. While he hasn’t been an elite run-blocker, you won’t find anyone better on the edge when in passing situations. Thomas’ strength and balance are the bedrock for his success.

     

    Thomas was No. 2 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

3. Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks

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    Pass Block

    47/50

    In a league dominated by the pass, Russell Okung (6'5", 310 pounds, three seasons) allowed just two sacks all season. The factors that make Okung so good in pass protection are his long arms and quick feet. He’s able to make a fluid, quick move to the corner to cut off the edge rush, and while he’s not overly strong, he uses good leverage to hold the inside on power rushers.

    Run Block

    40/50

    Okung is an exceptional pass-protector, but when it comes to the run game he’s not on the same level. Too many penalties were charted his way, knocking down his overall score and giving concern about his ability to anchor the edge. Physically, he’s capable—but he has to learn to keep his hands inside the frame of the defender when pushing the pile.

    Overall

    87/100

    Finally healthy, Okung dominated as a pass-protector in 2012. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Russell was a highly projected draft pick when the Seahawks selected him in 2010, and now that he’s injury-free, that promise is being fulfilled.

     

    Okung was No. 26 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

2. Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers

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    Pass Block

    40/50

    A talented pass-blocker, but not in an elite class, Joe Staley (6'5", 315 pounds, six seasons) struggles with fast pass-rushers who can beat him to the edge. Defenders will catch Staley off-guard with a hard outside move, as he can struggle to shuffle step and beat pass-rushers to the corner. At times he can be a little top-heavy, but if Staley gets his hands on pass-rushers, he’s strong enough to control them and shut down the pass rush. He's far from a liability, but his struggles with outside moves hurt his score.

    Run Block

    50/50

    The most powerful run-blocker in the NFL, Staley grades out with a perfect overall score in this area. With a big, strong frame and elite quickness for a left tackle, Staley is able to explode off the line and get into defenders’ frames quickly. He has a great understanding of angles in the run game, which allows him to not waste steps or get lost in traffic. Most importantly, he is just faster and stronger than most players he’ll encounter.

    Overall

    90/100

    Staley emerged in 2012 as the best run-blocking left tackle in the NFL. He’s a powerful, athletic player with unreal quickness and strength. What makes Staley so great is his quickness off the ball and burst when engaging defenders. As his pass protection improves, Staley’s stock rises.

     

    Staley was No. 16 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

1. Duane Brown, Houston Texans

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    Pass Block

    48/50

    Duane Brown (6'4", 320 pounds, five seasons) allowed just four sacks over the course of the regular season and playoffs, showing that he’s a premier pass-protector on the left side. Brown’s biggest strength is his ability to quickly come off the line and get into position. His quickness in coming out of his stance is elite, as is his ability to slide his feet and get into position to stop pass-rushers taking an outside loop to the quarterback. Brown has the strength to wall off bull-rushers and is smart enough to identify blitzes pre-snap.

    Run Block

    45/50

    Quickness and leverage are the keys to Brown’s success as a run-blocker. The Houston Texans routinely ran left behind Brown—opposite most NFL teams' tendency. Brown dominated at the line of scrimmage, showing the burst to come off the ball and push defenders off balance. In the Texans’ zone-blocking scheme, quickness and agility are most important for a run-blocker, and Brown excels at both. Aided by his smaller frame, Brown has rare quickness for the position.

    Overall

    93/100

    Brown grades out as our top left tackle and the most balanced overall tackle in the NFL. His quickness and agility are perfect matches for what the Texans do offensively, and both skills allow him to be equally qualified as a pass-protector and run-blocker. Being balanced and versatile is rare for an NFL tackle, but Brown has both.

     

    Brown was No. 3 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 rankings.

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